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The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today (Chapter 7)

31 In the Gospel of John the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples in a closed room saying, “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (20:21-22). Further evidence of this ministration of new life and new commission is found later in the Gospel of John where Jesus feeds several of the disciples bread and fish and then three times commissions Peter to feed His sheep and lambs (21:15-17). Likewise in the Gospel of Luke there is the ministry of faith and life through His unmistakable resurrection presence (Luke 24:36-43) and the declaration of a new commission (24:46-48). Such is prior to Pentecost, as Luke specifies in the book of Acts, and thus points to a further period of instruction, waiting, and yielding to the Lord.

32 A Roman citizen, tribe of Benjamin, graduate of Tarsus, Pharisee of the Pharisees, master of legal righteousness, fierce against the church (see e.g., Phil. 3:4-7): this was the Saul encountered by Jesus on the road to Damascus.

33 According to Paul, in Romans 6, the “fruit” of such yielding is “unto holiness,” but the yielding itself is that whereby one becomes a servant, or slave, of God. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants [or ‘slaves’] of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (v. 22—KJV).

34 The language of Romans 12:1, where again Paul calls for a life of total commitment. All of life is to be poured out on the altar of complete self-giving.

35 See Philippians 2:5-8.

36 See James 3:6-10. The importance of surrender of the tongue—the “unrighteous world among our members”—can scarcely be exaggerated. It desperately needs control and direction by the Holy Spirit. As we have earlier noted, when the disciples at Pentecost—and many others later—were filled with the Holy Spirit they “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” In their total yielding, which included the tongue, the Spirit gave them this new utterance which was to the praise and magnifying of God. So it continues to be in the contemporary movement of the Holy Spirit where speaking in tongues, among other things, is a sign of complete yielding to God. The tongue no longer “set on fire by hell” is aflame with the glory of God!

37 In the writer’s own case it was not easy to be prayed for by an ordained minister from another denomination. It seemed a bit humiliating to one also ordained (and a theologian at that!), but God blessed this act of submission, and the gift of the Spirit was received.

38 John Rea writes about yielding thus: “The individual seeking to be baptized and filled with the Spirit must be willing to yield control of every part of his being to the Holy Spirit … you should yield yourself completely unto Jesus, as one who is alive from the dead, and also every member and faculty of your body as an instrument of righteous­ness. … Yield your will so that your motives are pure. … Yield your members, especially your tongue as the organ of expression of the Holy Spirit through you” (Layman’s Commentary on the Holy Spirit, p. 65). Donald Gelpi speaks of praying for “full docility to the Spirit of Christ.” He adds: “[this] is in effect to express one’s willingness to do whatever God may be calling one to do, no matter what the personal sacrifice or suffering that call might entail. The person who cannot pray such a prayer and mean it is not yet ready for ‘Spirit-baptism’” (Pentecostalism: A Theological Viewpoint, p. 183). Yielding, “full docility”—indeed total surrender—is essential for the reception of the fullness of God’s Spirit. What Rea and Gelpi speak about is illustrated countless times in the contemporary renewal.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today by J. Rodman Williams, was published in 1980 by Logos International. Used by permission of the author. Reprinted in Pneuma Review with minor updates from the author.

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Winter 2004

About the Author: J. Rodman Williams (1918-2008), Ph.D., is considered to be the father of renewal theology. He served as a chaplain in the Second World War, he was a church pastor, college professor, and key figure in the charismatic movement of the 1960s. Beginning in 1982, he taught theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and became Professor of Renewal Theology Emeritus there in 2002. Author of numerous books, he is perhaps best known for his three volume Renewal Theology (Zondervan, 1996).

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